Sometimes, the best holiday decorations are the ones we make ourselves. As pretty as the store-bought ornaments are, and convenient though an artificial tree may be, there’s nothing quite like having a Christmas tree you found and chopped yourself.
Unfortunately, you might not be the only one who was attracted to your all-natural approach to holiday home decoration.
You might remember the famous scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, in which a squirrel singlehandedly terrorized the Chevy Chase household by leaping out of their Christmas tree.
While this scene was funny – at least, in the eye of the beholder – we imagine you’d find it a lot less comical if the same thing happened in your home, especially if you replace the squirrel with a brood of newly hatched baby spiders.
Many pest species feed, breed and hibernate on organic materials like trees, so unless you want your home to be suddenly flooded by uninvited crawling guests, it’s important to take precautions before you deck the halls.
Here are a few things you can do to minimize the chances that you’ll end up with an infestation in your house:
Inspect your Christmas tree and other natural decorations to make sure they’re free of pests.
Christmas trees can be home to a variety of bugs, including:
- Pine needle scale
- Praying mantises
- Bark beetles
Some bugs, such as spiders, aphids and praying mantises, remain dormant inside their eggs during winter, then hatch when spring comes. The warmth of your house might trick them into thinking it’s spring, resulting in hundreds of eggs hatching and unleashing a flood of critters in your home.
Because of this, it’s important to make sure you aren’t bringing bugs – or, even worse, an egg sac – into your house along with your wreaths, garlands, and trees.
Before you bring the tree or ornament inside, inspect it carefully, including the undersides of the branches and the trunk. Prune off any branches that have bird’s nests, egg sacs, white specks, bugs, cocoons, or something resembling a dusting of snow that doesn’t melt.
Spray your natural holiday decorations with safe, non-flammable and odorless pesticides.
No matter how much you hate bugs and don’t want them in your house, DO NOT spray your decorations with aerosol pesticides unless you’re sure the one you’re using isn’t flammable.
Some pesticides are easily ignited, as are the pine trees you might be thinking of spraying them on. Christmas trees are involved in approximately 500 fires per year, resulting in an average of 33 deaths and over 100 injuries per year.
While your Christmas lights aren’t likely to ignite an unsprayed tree, if the pesticide catches fire, the tree will probably be quick to join it, especially if it’s dry.
It’s much safer to use a compound like diatomaceous earth, which is non-flammable and leaves no scent or odors. Dust the ornament with it while it’s outside, then shake off the excess before bringing it inside.
Speaking of which…
Shake your ornaments off to prevent pests from hitchhiking.
Not all bugs can be shaken out of your natural holiday decorations, but this strategy will remove the ones that are more easily dislodged.
When you shake out the decorations, do so on an easily vacuumed and preferably outdoor surface, and have a vacuum handy so you can suck up any fallen critters before they escape.
Bake ornaments to ensure they’re free of pests.
When you’re dealing with smaller items like pine cones, try baking them at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple hours on a foil-lined baking sheet, or microwaving them.
Not only will this kill any bugs that aren’t highly heat-resistant, but it will also release more of the pine cones’ natural fragrance.
Found out too late that your Christmas tree was NOT free of pests?
If you’ve already got an infestation in your house, or you want help to ensure that you don’t get one this year, visit this page to get a free inspection and quote from our pest control experts today!